[Write On Wednesday] Homesick

Write A Story In Which A Character Is Homesick

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Character is king, in stories, but how can you make your character more realistic? Share an emotion that all of us have experienced. Examine it in the context of what your plot is doing to the character. This is an especially useful skill to work on if your stories tend to be set in fantastic, futuristic or historical settings. We can’t easily identify with Frodo fighting off goblins, but we can feel his pain as he longs for the Shire (and shed a tear when he and Sam face the reality that they probably won’t make it home again).

The Prompt

Write A Story In Which A Character Is Homesick

Tips

  • Make the homesickness fuel the plot somehow – have the character make a truly stupid decision in reaction to their homesick impulse. Or have them do whatever it takes to overcome it.
  • Put the homesickness in a surprising context — maybe a soldier finds himself ‘homesick’ for the place he had the worst experience of his life; maybe a 90 year old immigrant smells something that catapults her back to her childhood in a faraway land…
  • Maybe it’s not your main character who is homesick. Who else could be homesick and how would that affect your protagonist?
  • Are the people around the homesick character sympathetic? Impatient? Uncomprehending? Oblivious? Why?
  • Lead the reader through the emotions of homesickness as your character experiences it. Is it an ache in their forearms as they resist the temptation to call their old home phone number and see who answers? Is it a yawning hollow in their belly, as if they’ll never be able to eat enough to fill it? Is it a prickle behind their eyelids and a digging of nails into palms? Think about how you’ve felt when you’ve had that yearning to go home again.
  • If you’re not managing to conjure up the emotions to mine, try this: go to Google maps. Type in the address of somewhere you went once, for a shining hour or day or year — somewhere that holds special memories for you. Go into Street View. (Look up your first family home, your first school, that place you went on vacation once and had the torrid affair with  a local boy…). Look at the light, the sky, the architecture, the sidewalks, the window frames, the shop fronts. What do you feel? What do you notice? What had you forgotten? Use details like this to make your character’s longing for home seem real to a reader.

Go!